Day Fourteen

I have to confess that I don’t really love baseball. It may be America’s past time, but it is like watching the grass grow to me. I do, however, love going downtown to Nationals Park for a game. So, I was looking forward to taking the boys to see the Phillies for the last game of their series.
I went online to get the Family Fun Pack ticket deal. This is a bargain by modern baseball standards. For $24 per person you receive a ticket to the game, a hot dog, chips and drink.
After negotiating the torturous process of online ticketing and parking vouchers through the Nationals website, I was only able to find four seats in the same section, not in the same row. My pre-game total was hovering close to $200 and we hadn’t stepped out the door. Thank God Mark had to work and the Family Fun was limited to only the four of us. In an effort to keep costs from escalating any further, I reread the guidelines for bringing outside food into the park:
Soft-sided cooler— check
Individual sized assorted chips— check
Juice boxes— check
One box of candy per boy— check
After outfitting everyone in Nats attire, we hit the road and arrived at the park a mere 45 minutes later which also happened to be almost two hours before they were scheduled to throw the first pitch.
The old parking lots they carved out and tried to adapt for the new arena, are not equipped for large SUV’s. So, I had to maneuver the car into a space by backing in. It took me three tries with a row of cars in front of me and a chain link fence behind me. I am sure it was the highlight of the day for the parking attendant and the group of guys tailgating next to me. Watching me was like a bad Driver’s Education movie and great entertainment.
I pretended not to notice how crooked the car was as I grabbed the bulging cooler and walked toward “Will Call” for our tickets. The kids totally noticed the bad parking job but had the sense to be embarrassed for me and kept their mouths shut. The one thing they do not mention on the website about bringing in outside food is how difficult it is to get around the park with an oversized cooler dangling from your shoulder . I bumped and cursed my way through the turnstiles and the sea of Phillies fans.
We secured our tickets plus the voucher for our hot dog meal and the kids hot-footed it to the gate where the promised free duffel bags were stacked. They each grabbed one and shoved it into their mesh backpacks as Mac led us to our seats. Everywhere I looked , Phillies folks ruled. They streamed in from every entrance and outnumbered the Nationals fans two to one.
The seats were excellent. Mac was in the first row, left field, overlooking the Phillies bullpen where he was assured a glimpse of Halladay. Unbeknownst to me, he had checked the website seating chart and knew we were right above the bullpen and grabbed his Phillies hat just in case. It was slightly depressing to note that Mac had changed allegiances and was now solidly in the Philadelphia camp. Reed’s seat was one row behind Mac’s and I settled in my seat some ten rows back with Drew right in front of me.
Mac signaled for his brothers to follow him and I didn’t see any of them again for over an hour. I sat and baked in the midday sun while repeatedly texting Mac to determine their location. I scanned the groups of autographs seekers, looked at the Jumbotron and still no sign of my kids. So, I sought shade with a view of our seats in case they come looking for me.
The ushers were suspicious of me and my cooler of contraband. I shifted it from shoulder to shoulder, I set it on the ground but either way it was an albatross as I was currently standing in the shade of the restaurant awning. And still no sign of the boys.
Since I had been hanging out for over an hour, I was thirsty, but my voucher indicated that I couldn’t just get my water. I had to get the hotdog and chips at the same time. The one thing I knew was that I couldn’t add anything else to the cooler. Because of the lack of water fountains—which I think should be against the law by the way—I went to the bathroom and splashed my face and drank a little water cupped from my hand.
I knew I was being stubborn and just should’ve purchased a $4 water. But going to Nationals Park is like going to another country. Your money is subject to conversion rates and mathematic formulas. Ten dollars in Gaithersburg is not the same as ten dollars at National Park. I could wait for the voucher.
So, I did what any good mother would do. I ate the kids’ chips and drank their juice boxes. That will teach them to desert me in a steamy ball park. Finally they returned, hot and sweaty and without any autographs. The Nationals never sent out any players to meet and greet the fans. No wonder everyone was a Phillies fan here.
The boys made their way to their seats. Mac texted me to say he had moved Reed up next to him which made me feel better. Mac later told me that all the adults in the immediate area continued to ask them leading questions about where their parents were. So, not only was I guilty of stealing food from my children, I was now the talk of the entire section.
Drew was adopted by the wonderful family of five from Philly that were seated next to him. They offered him food, chatted about the game and where they lived. Soon enough he was rooting for the Phillies as well. Meanwhile, I kept leaning forward to interject comments so the rest of the folks surrounding us wouldn’t think I was a strange loner who came to a Nationals game solo on a Sunday and was too cheap to buy my own food.
Mark began sending me severe storm updates in the fourth inning warning me of impending doom. Drew’s adopted Phillies dad was starting to sense that he was nervous about the imminent storm so Drew and I headed for cover under the Family Picnic Area which is adjacent to the playground. See why I love this park?
We had tried to talk Mac into joining us but his hope of catching a homerun kept him firmly planted in his seat with no apparent concerns about getting struck by lightening. Reed was sticking with him. My parenting skills took another hit as I left Mac and Reed to brave Mother Nature under the critical eye of our fellow game goers.
The good news was that no one got struck by lightening. The bad news was Drew paced and fretted until Mac and Reed appeared soaking wet under the pavilion. We waited out the rain delay under the pavilion which smelled like a combination of a locker room and a kennel. One sweaty, soggy hour later, play resumed.
The plastic wrap from the free duffel bags came in handy as a cover for our soaked seats. I gave them a quick wipe with napkins I had pilfered from the Dippin Dots stand and got ready for the rest of the game. The section had cleared out enough for all the kids to sit in the front row and Drew revelled in his improved status.
I was relegated to the upper rows again. The cooler which had plagued me most of the day was perched in the unoccupied seat next to me. The rest of the row remained empty. Occasionally, I caught a glimpse of Mac leaning over the rail to the bullpen. Even from a distance, it was obvious he was begging for a ball or an autograph. By this time his hopes of catching a game ball were fading.
I had instituted a time limit of 5pm on the game. Without the rain delay it would’ve been plenty of time. We were meeting Mark and my mom for dinner so we left at the bottom of eighth. I endured more stares and guffaws from the sparse crowd as I dragged the kids out of a tied game.
I got few complaints on the way out so I think the kids were as ready to leave as I was. The rain delay drove folks out early so we had no traffic issues. I decided to take advantage of the open roads and took the long way home.
We passed all the monuments, veered off M street to Foxhall and I showed the kids some of Georgtown University. We cut across to Nebraska and all the stately houses, passed Mount Vernon College and the water treatment plant where I fumbled through a brief– and likely false–summary of what the plant does. We came up to Sibley Hospital where their cousin was born and then hit the beltway. It was a side of the city they had never seen.
It was worth the extra fifteen or twenty minutes to give them a tour of some of my favorite parts of the city and I vow, once again, to make the time to do this more often. I must confess, I really don’t love baseball. But I really love Washington DC.


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Magnificence in the Mundane

Finding humor in kids and chaos is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

Magnificence in the Mundane

Finding humor in kids and chaos is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

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